Respected Customers, Incentive Addicts, Etc.

The bad news: Just 49 percent of respondents to a WSL Strategic Retail survey agreed with the statement, “Most retailers or places I shop respect me as a customer.” The other bad news: This lackluster level of satisfaction is fairly consistent across lines of gender, income and age. Women are just slightly more likely than men to feel they’re respected as customers (51 percent vs. 47 percent). You’d think well-to-do shoppers are much more pampered by retailers than their prole counterparts, but there was just a marginal difference between respondents whose annual income is under $50,000 (48 percent feel respected), those making $50,000 to $100,000 (49 percent) and those whose income is higher than $100,000 (52 percent). As for age, consumers in the 35-54 bracket were a little less likely to say they feel respected as customers (45 percent) than were those under 35 (51 percent) or those 55 and older (53 percent).

You know you’re getting old when a sultry model reminds you of the dog in the old “Little Rascals” show—the one with the circular spot around his eye. A campaign for the Dallas Market Center uses the visual device to eye-catching effect in promoting the venue to the apparel trade. Flowers & Partners of Dallas created the ad.

Which disease do women see as the biggest threat to them? In an online poll by Glamour, heart disease got the most votes (24 percent), with breast cancer a close second (19 percent). A striking 14 percent of respondents cited depression, putting it on a par with cervical, ovarian and other gynecological cancers. Eleven percent picked skin cancer, while just 2 percent cited HIV/AIDS.

You might think buy-American sentiment would be stronger now—i.e., post-9/11 and when American jobs have been ebbing—than in the heedless-getting-and-spending heyday of 1998. Consumers are full of surprises, though, and a survey by Mediamark Research Inc. finds a dip in the proportion of adults who say “buying American is important to me,” from 81 percent then to 76 percent now. The decline was particularly steep among respondents in the 18-24 age bracket, from 66 percent in 1998 to 58 percent now.

Americans are a mobile people, but some are more mobile than others. A new report from the Census Bureau, analyzing data from the 2000 Census, points to college-educated young (or youngish) singles as a restless bunch. Among single college graduates in the 25-39 age bracket, 75 percent moved between 1995 and 2000, vs. 64.9 percent of all 25-39s. For married graduates in the 25-39 bracket, the figure was 72.3 percent. Young single grads were nearly twice as likely as 25-39s in general to have moved to a different state (22.6 percent vs. 12.4 percent). By the way, though old folks are more likely than young folks to stay put, 23.3 percent of the 65-plus population moved between 1995 and 2000.

Don’t omit a music track if you’re making a commercial aimed at college students. A study by researchers at Penn State has found that students’ positive emotions increase (except for love) and their negative emotions decrease (except for fear) after they listen to music. What genres do students favor? Apart from music majors, who go for classical and jazz, students listen most to rock (including hard rock, heavy metal and modern rock), country and soft rock, in that order. They “quite rarely” listen to classical or jazz.

Who doesn’t like chocolate? Nine percent of Americans, says a new Mintel report. Among the nine in 10 Americans who are pro-chocolate, milk chocolate has roughly twice as many partisans as dark chocolate. The dark variety fares better with men and upper-income folks. Ninety-three percent of those who eat chocolate consume chocolate bars; 80 percent eat “portion control piece candy,” such as Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; 70 percent eat “popable” candies like M&Ms.

If you’re going to run over pedestrians, do it with gusto! Oh, sorry, I got confused here. Actually, the message of some offbeat outdoor ads for the city of Toronto is that you should not run over pedestrians. Since the cautionary text is less arresting than the catchy visual, though, we’ll wait to see whether motorists draw the correct moral. Axmith McIntyre Wicht of Toronto created the ad.

An informed consumer isn’t always a prudent consumer. A poll for the American Dietetic Association illustrates the principle. It found 89 percent of women saying they believe calcium is important to their health, even as 45 percent conceded they don’t get enough of it. Twenty-four percent of women blamed the fact that they can’t tolerate or don’t like milk and milk products. Forty-two percent said it’s “too complicated to figure out how much calcium is in a serving of a particular food and then add everything up.”

You may think advertising is nothing to joke about, but the folks at Penguin Books think otherwise. A new edition of The Penguin Dictionary of Jokes includes a section of jests about the ad business, suitably (and alphabetically) placed between the “Adolescence” and “Advice” categories. One of the entries: “Advertising is what makes you think you’ve longed all your life for something you’ve never heard of before.” Another one: “There’s no doubt advertising brings quick results. Yesterday we advertised for a security guard and last night we were burgled.”

Automakers would like nothing better than to stop giving incentives like cash-back and zero-percent financing. But consumers won’t make it easy for them. In a Maritz Poll of vehicle owners/drivers, 83 percent subscribed to the statement, “Most people now expect incentives to be part of any new vehicle purchase/lease.” More than half agreed (25 percent strongly, 28 percent mildly) with the statement, “I would not purchase/lease a new vehicle without some sort of incentive.” That’s especially true of people who’ve postponed a car purchase due to financial concerns.